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We said very little to each other that night at the comfortable little hotel. I think we were all very tired. Aunt Penelope went early to bed, Vernon and I stayed downstairs and talked about our future. We talked languidly, however; our thoughts were not even with our own happy future at that moment. I was thinking all the time of my father, and I know well that Vernon was thinking of him also. Aunt Penelope went to bed between nine and ten o'clock; it was between ten and eleven when the door of the private sitting-room1 was flung open and a servant announced: "Major Grayson," and my dear father came in. His face was flushed, and his eyes looked feverishly2 bright. He came up to us both with his hands extended.
"My dear, good, kind children," he said; then he paused for a minute until the waiter had shut the door. Then he took me into his arms and kissed me half a dozen times, and then he wrung3 Vernon's hand and said, "My dear boy—my good boy!" Afterwards we all got a little calmer and sat down, I sinking close to father's side and Vernon standing5 opposite to us.
"Come, now," said father, after a minute's pause, "you must give it all up, you know. Yes, Vernon, my boy, you must give it up, and so must that dear Pen, and so must my little Heather. I am but fulfilling a promise made long years ago. You none of you understand. I'll pull along somehow, in some kind of fashion, but I won't drag that poor woman's name into the dust. You see, my children, she doesn't know what it means, but I do. I have plenty of strength in me—the great strength of innocence6, which supported me all through my terrible period of imprisonment7, and also the strength which is but seldom given to a woman. Anyhow, she is not to suffer; I put down my foot. She has told me all; I found her in a terrible state; I had to send a doctor to her. She is in bed now; he was obliged to give her a soothing8 draught9. Children, both of you, I shall live in your happiness, and my own does not matter. I can't desert Helen Dalrymple, and, what's more, I won't!"
"Oh, Daddy!" I said. "Oh, Daddy!"
I laid my head on his shoulder and began to sob10.
"I can't live without you," I whispered, and I pressed my lips to his rough cheek and kissed him. He put his arm round me very firmly.
"You will live and be very happy, little girl. And now, look here; I could not leave our house in Hanbury Square until Helen was asleep, then I thought I'd come round and have a talk with you. When she wakens she must be told that you are not going to do anything. She will drop you out of her life, Heather, and so much the better—yes, so much the better. I can get a promise out of her that I shall come and see you now and again, and when I do come I can assure you, my two dear young people, I shall be as jolly as a sand-boy; you won't have anything to complain of on that score. But while I'm here I'll just hold to the bargain I made long years ago."
"Oh, father, father!" I said. "Why did you make it? Why did you do it? Why did you sacrifice yourself for her and for that man?"
"Hush11, child! You can't read all a man's motives12. At that time I—I really cared for Lady Helen. Not, perhaps, Heather, as I loved your mother, but I was fond of her, undoubtedly13; and if this trouble had never come I should probably have married her. She loved me too. I'll tell you one or two things I left out the other day. I had proposed to her long before that fearful scandal came to our ears in connection with her brother. She had refused me. I had begged and prayed her to be my wife, but she had firmly refused. Then I got into debt; I always was an extravagant14 slap-dash sort of person. I was very unhappy, and I brought you back to England—you remember that time, don't you, little woman?"
"Oh, yes," I said, trying to bring my thoughts back to the distant past.
"She wanted me to do so. She thought it very bad to have a child as old as you in India. I settled with your aunt to keep you. My debts haunted me and although Lady Helen refused to marry me, she lent me money to pay my debts. I went back to India, and then the thunderclap came. Lady Helen's brother would undoubtedly have been arrested if I had not thrown myself into the breach15. I thought out a plan very quickly; I liked Helen and I pitied her, and I did not think my own life worth saving. I went to Helen and told her that I could put the officers of justice off the scent16 and get the crime fastened on myself, and I would do so on condition that she married me when I came out of prison. She agreed, and there we are. Now, my dear Heather, as that's the story, I could not go back from my bargain now."
"It was a very bad bargain for you," I could not help saying. I trembled very much, and the tears rolled down my cheeks.
"But we must keep our bargains, whether they are good or bad, Heather," whispered my father to me. "That is the law of life: as we sow we shall reap. And I am not altogether unhappy, not since this good fellow has found out the truth and I am cleared in his eyes, and in the eyes of you, my child, and in my sister-in-law's eyes. Nothing else greatly matters. Heather, you are in the morning of your days, I am in the evening of life. When we come to the evening of life nothing concerns us, except so to live that we may fear God and do His commandments, and so fulfil the duty of man. That's about all, child. I am more grateful to you than I can say, and more than grateful to you, Carbury. Give poor dear Pen my love when she wakes, and tell her that it is quite all right—yes, quite all right. I am in the evening of life, and I will do my duty worthily17 to the very end."
As father said the last words he got up. He took me in his arms and kissed me; there was a solemnity about his kiss, and his dear, bright blue eyes looked softer than I had seen them for a long time.
"Heather, you're the image of your mother," he said abruptly18. "And she—bless her memory!—she was the one woman in all the world for me."
Then he wrung Vernon's hand and went away. We could not detain him. I sat up for a little longer with Vernon, and then I went upstairs to bed. Vernon was staying in an hotel not far away.
All that long night I lay awake, not for one minute could I slumber19. My past seemed to come before my eyes, it seemed to torture me. I felt somehow as though I were passing into a region of great darkness, as though I were going—I, myself—through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. What right—oh, what right had I to be happy when my father, my darling father, was thought so cruelly of by the world! I felt I could not bear it. I got up, I paced the floor, I drank cold water, I went to bed again, I tried every dodge20 for coaxing21 sleep to come to me, but sleep would not obey my mandate22. At last morning broke, and with the first blush of dawn I got up. I was downstairs and in the breakfast-room when Vernon appeared. He brought in some beautiful roses; he laid them on my plate.
"Have you told Aunt Penelope yet?" he asked.
"No," I replied. "I have not seen her since last night."
Just at that moment my dear auntie entered the room.
"Well, children," she said, "I hope you have slept well. I have. I have got a great accession of strength and am determined23 to go right through with this matter. We'll wait here, as promised, until twelve o'clock, then we'll go straight to my solicitors24, and, hey, presto25! the thing is done. That fine madam will be down on her knees to us before the day is over. I know the sort—horrible, painted wretch26!"
"You will have some breakfast before you do anything else, won't you?" said Vernon.
He took the head of the breakfast table. Really nothing could ever discompose Captain Carbury. He poured out tea and coffee for us both. Aunt Penelope ate her breakfast with appetite; then she desired me to sit by the window and watch.
"We have given her till twelve o'clock, but the woman may send round long before then, that's what I am expecting."
I looked at Vernon. The waiter had removed the breakfast things; we had the room to ourselves. Vernon went and shut the door, then he came up to Aunt Penelope and took her hand.
"Twelve o'clock won't make any difference, my dear friend," he said.
"Why, what on earth do you mean, Vernon?" was her remark. "You surely are not backing out of it!"
"Heather and I can have nothing to do with it."
"You and Heather? what nonsense you talk! I don't believe I am hearing you aright."
"Yes, you are. Major Grayson was here last night; he came after you had gone to bed. He doesn't wish it done; he says he will abide27 by his bargain. He is as brave a soldier as I have ever come across, and for my part I don't see why he should be deprived of his laurel wreath."
"Oh, what are you talking about!" said Aunt Penelope. "His laurel wreath! Why, you know as well as I do that he's cashiered from the army. And you call that a glory, or whatever else you consider a laurel wreath!"
"In the eyes of God he is a hero, and he doesn't much mind what man says. Now, I'll tell you everything. You've got to listen—you can't go against a noble spirit like his."
Aunt Penelope fidgeted and trembled. A great spot of pink colour came on one of her cheeks, leaving the other pale.
"Well, have your say," she murmured. "Have your say, I'm sure I don't care."
But when Vernon had done speaking, there was my dear old auntie crying as though her heart would break. I was about to comfort her, or at least to try to do so, when there came a hasty knock at the door. A servant appeared with a telegram on a salver. Vernon tore it open, it was addressed to him, and had been brought across from his hotel. His face turned pale.
"There is no answer," he said to the man, who withdrew. Then he put his hand on my shoulder, and with his other hand he drew Aunt Penelope to her feet.
"I have something to tell you both," he said. "We are sent for; we have to go to Hanbury Square. There has been a very bad accident. I cannot quite understand this telegram, but he is hurt. His motor came into collision with another last night, and he was thrown out and hurt rather badly on his head. It may not be a great deal; it may be—everything. We are to go at once."
Now I knew why I had lain awake all that long night, why I had felt instinctively28 that there was a dark cloud coming up and up and enveloping29 my sky. I did not say a word. There are times when one cannot shed tears, tears are so inadequate30. I ran upstairs and put on my hat and jacket, and Aunt Penelope stumbled after me and got into her outdoor things, and Vernon had a carriage at the door, and in a few minutes we were off.
A few minutes later we found ourselves in Hanbury Square. There were two doctors' carriages at the door, but they moved away to make room for us. We entered. The servants looked distracted, the solemn sort of order which always prevailed in that great house was lacking on that special morning. An elderly man, with a fine head and a shock of snow-white hair, was coming down the stairs. He turned in the hall and looked at us three, and especially he looked at me.
"Am I right or wrong," he said, "but do you happen to be the young lady my patient is calling out for?"
"Father," I said. "My father; you are speaking of my father?"
"I am speaking of Major Dalrymple."
"He is my father."
"And his name is Grayson," snapped Aunt Penelope.
The doctor took no notice of her, but he put his hand on mine.
"You've got to be very brave, my dear," he said. "I'm glad you have come. He is ill, you know; in fact, rather bad; in fact, very bad. Come softly, I'll take you up to his room."
I followed the doctor. We went up to the first floor. The doctor turned the handle of a door. There was a spacious31 room; within it looked like a hospital ward4. Most of the furniture had been removed, the floor was covered with white linen32, stretched very tightly over the thick carpet. A narrow bedstead had been drawn33 out into the centre of the room, the curtains had been removed. There was a table covered with white cloths, on which bottles had been placed. There were two trained nurses moving softly about the room.
A man lay stretched on his back in the centre of the bed. I went quickly up to him.
"Now, show courage, don't give way," said the doctor.
I knelt down by the man and looked into his eyes.
"I said you'd come."
His voice was so low I could scarcely recognise it, but his eyes smiled at me. There never were such blue eyes, there never was anyone in all the world who could smile as sweetly as my father. I knelt by him without speaking one word. The doctor stood behind me without moving. Presently my father raised his voice a trifle.
"Leave us two quite alone," he said.
The doctor and the nurses immediately went out. When there was no one else present my father said:
"Stoop very low, Heather."
I did stoop.
"I said last night 'the evening of life'—the night has come. You will keep my secret always? Promise."
"Yes," I said.
He smiled at me again and then closed his eyes.
The doctor came back. Suddenly he bent34 forward and put his hand on my father's hand and felt where his pulse ought to be, and then he said to me:
"Come away, my dear," and I went.
They asked me downstairs, those two who waited, what my father had said, and what had happened, but I only replied: "I will keep his secret—we must all keep it—for his dear sake."
I have kept it to this day. I am a happy wife and mother now, and the old things are passed away. I never see Lady Helen, and I am glad of that. I like to forget that she ever came into my life, and into father's. Father, of course, is very happy, happier than any of us. I talk to my children about him on Sunday evenings, and we wonder together what he is doing in the land where there are no secrets, and where no one is misunderstood.
Printed by Cassell & Company, Limited, La Belle35 Sauvage, London, E.C.


1 sitting-room sitting-room     
  • The sitting-room is clean.起居室很清洁。
  • Each villa has a separate sitting-room.每栋别墅都有一间独立的起居室。
2 feverishly 5ac95dc6539beaf41c678cd0fa6f89c7     
adv. 兴奋地
  • Feverishly he collected his data. 他拼命收集资料。
  • The company is having to cast around feverishly for ways to cut its costs. 公司迫切须要想出各种降低成本的办法。
3 wrung b11606a7aab3e4f9eebce4222a9397b1     
绞( wring的过去式和过去分词 ); 握紧(尤指别人的手); 把(湿衣服)拧干; 绞掉(水)
  • He has wrung the words from their true meaning. 他曲解这些字的真正意义。
  • He wrung my hand warmly. 他热情地紧握我的手。
4 ward LhbwY     
  • The hospital has a medical ward and a surgical ward.这家医院有内科病房和外科病房。
  • During the evening picnic,I'll carry a torch to ward off the bugs.傍晚野餐时,我要点根火把,抵挡蚊虫。
5 standing 2hCzgo     
  • After the earthquake only a few houses were left standing.地震过后只有几幢房屋还立着。
  • They're standing out against any change in the law.他们坚决反对对法律做任何修改。
6 innocence ZbizC     
  • There was a touching air of innocence about the boy.这个男孩有一种令人感动的天真神情。
  • The accused man proved his innocence of the crime.被告人经证实无罪。
7 imprisonment I9Uxk     
  • His sentence was commuted from death to life imprisonment.他的判决由死刑减为无期徒刑。
  • He was sentenced to one year's imprisonment for committing bigamy.他因为犯重婚罪被判入狱一年。
8 soothing soothing     
  • Put on some nice soothing music.播放一些柔和舒缓的音乐。
  • His casual, relaxed manner was very soothing.他随意而放松的举动让人很快便平静下来。
9 draught 7uyzIH     
  • He emptied his glass at one draught.他将杯中物一饮而尽。
  • It's a pity the room has no north window and you don't get a draught.可惜这房间没北窗,没有过堂风。
10 sob HwMwx     
  • The child started to sob when he couldn't find his mother.孩子因找不到他妈妈哭了起来。
  • The girl didn't answer,but continued to sob with her head on the table.那个女孩不回答,也不抬起头来。她只顾低声哭着。
11 hush ecMzv     
  • A hush fell over the onlookers.旁观者们突然静了下来。
  • Do hush up the scandal!不要把这丑事声张出去!
12 motives 6c25d038886898b20441190abe240957     
n.动机,目的( motive的名词复数 )
  • to impeach sb's motives 怀疑某人的动机
  • His motives are unclear. 他的用意不明。
13 undoubtedly Mfjz6l     
  • It is undoubtedly she who has said that.这话明明是她说的。
  • He is undoubtedly the pride of China.毫无疑问他是中国的骄傲。
14 extravagant M7zya     
  • They tried to please him with fulsome compliments and extravagant gifts.他们想用溢美之词和奢华的礼品来取悦他。
  • He is extravagant in behaviour.他行为放肆。
15 breach 2sgzw     
  • We won't have any breach of discipline.我们不允许任何破坏纪律的现象。
  • He was sued for breach of contract.他因不履行合同而被起诉。
16 scent WThzs     
  • The air was filled with the scent of lilac.空气中弥漫着丁香花的芬芳。
  • The flowers give off a heady scent at night.这些花晚上散发出醉人的芳香。
17 worthily 80b0231574c2065d9379b86fcdfd9be2     
  • Many daughters have done worthily, But you surpass them all. 29行事有才德的女子很多,惟独你超过众人。
  • Then as my gift, which your true love has worthily purchased, take mydaughter. 那么,就作为我的礼物,把我的女儿接受下来吧--这也是你的真实爱情应得的报偿。
18 abruptly iINyJ     
  • He gestured abruptly for Virginia to get in the car.他粗鲁地示意弗吉尼亚上车。
  • I was abruptly notified that a half-hour speech was expected of me.我突然被通知要讲半个小时的话。
19 slumber 8E7zT     
  • All the people in the hotels were wrapped in deep slumber.住在各旅馆里的人都已进入梦乡。
  • Don't wake him from his slumber because he needs the rest.不要把他从睡眠中唤醒,因为他需要休息。
20 dodge q83yo     
  • A dodge behind a tree kept her from being run over.她向树后一闪,才没被车从身上辗过。
  • The dodge was coopered by the police.诡计被警察粉碎了。
21 coaxing 444e70224820a50b0202cb5bb05f1c2e     
v.哄,用好话劝说( coax的现在分词 );巧言骗取;哄劝,劝诱;“锻炼”效应
  • No amount of coaxing will make me change my mind. 任你费尽口舌也不会说服我改变主意。
  • It took a lot of coaxing before he agreed. 劝说了很久他才同意。 来自辞典例句
22 mandate sj9yz     
  • The President had a clear mandate to end the war.总统得到明确的授权结束那场战争。
  • The General Election gave him no such mandate.大选并未授予他这种权力。
23 determined duszmP     
  • I have determined on going to Tibet after graduation.我已决定毕业后去西藏。
  • He determined to view the rooms behind the office.他决定查看一下办公室后面的房间。
24 solicitors 53ed50f93b0d64a6b74a2e21c5841f88     
初级律师( solicitor的名词复数 )
  • Most solicitors in England and Wales are in private practice . 英格兰和威尔士的大多数律师都是私人执业者。
  • The family has instructed solicitors to sue Thomson for compensation. 那家人已经指示律师起诉汤姆森,要求赔偿。
25 presto ZByy0     
  • With something so important,you can't just wave a wand and presto!在这么重大的问题上,你想挥动一下指挥棒,转眼就变过来,办不到!
  • I just turned the piece of wire in the lock and hey presto,the door opened.我把金属丝伸到锁孔里一拧,嘿,那门就开了。
26 wretch EIPyl     
  • You are really an ungrateful wretch to complain instead of thanking him.你不但不谢他,还埋怨他,真不知好歹。
  • The dead husband is not the dishonoured wretch they fancied him.死去的丈夫不是他们所想象的不光彩的坏蛋。
27 abide UfVyk     
  • You must abide by the results of your mistakes.你必须承担你的错误所造成的后果。
  • If you join the club,you have to abide by its rules.如果你参加俱乐部,你就得遵守它的规章。
28 instinctively 2qezD2     
  • As he leaned towards her she instinctively recoiled. 他向她靠近,她本能地往后缩。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • He knew instinctively where he would find her. 他本能地知道在哪儿能找到她。 来自《简明英汉词典》
29 enveloping 5a761040aff524df1fe0cf8895ed619d     
v.包围,笼罩,包住( envelop的现在分词 )
  • Always the eyes watching you and the voice enveloping you. 那眼睛总是死死盯着你,那声音总是紧紧围着你。 来自英汉文学
  • The only barrier was a mosquito net, enveloping the entire bed. 唯一的障碍是那顶蚊帐罩住整个床。 来自辞典例句
30 inadequate 2kzyk     
  • The supply is inadequate to meet the demand.供不应求。
  • She was inadequate to the demands that were made on her.她还无力满足对她提出的各项要求。
31 spacious YwQwW     
  • Our yard is spacious enough for a swimming pool.我们的院子很宽敞,足够建一座游泳池。
  • The room is bright and spacious.这房间很豁亮。
32 linen W3LyK     
  • The worker is starching the linen.这名工人正在给亚麻布上浆。
  • Fine linen and cotton fabrics were known as well as wool.精细的亚麻织品和棉织品像羊毛一样闻名遐迩。
33 drawn MuXzIi     
  • All the characters in the story are drawn from life.故事中的所有人物都取材于生活。
  • Her gaze was drawn irresistibly to the scene outside.她的目光禁不住被外面的风景所吸引。
34 bent QQ8yD     
  • He was fully bent upon the project.他一心扑在这项计划上。
  • We bent over backward to help them.我们尽了最大努力帮助他们。
35 belle MQly5     
  • She was the belle of her Sunday School class.在主日学校她是她们班的班花。
  • She was the belle of the ball.她是那个舞会中的美女。


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